In my naivety I asked Chris Sorensen, of Bundaberg, if he'd be driving his 1911 Stanley Steamer (one of the few motor cars to have a famous song written about it) to Canberra. He's bringing it here for the 2013 National Veteran 1 & 2 Cylinder Canberra Rally.
He laughed and said that no, life was too short to try to take the Stanley great distances.
''They're difficult cars to manage. It's steam driven and so every 30 kilometres or so you've got to start looking for a creek!''
Sorensen, just retired, spent most of his working life as an engineer around steamships and so is a steam aficionado. He explains that instead of a petrol engine a steam car has a boiler and a small, two-cylinder steam engine.
''In the photo I'm draining the steam off after finishing the day's drive. It takes about 45 minutes to get steam up before you can drive off and not only do you have to put fuel in [kerosene] you also have the added worry of making sure you have water in the water tank. A steam car is just a smaller version of a railway steam engine.''
Sorensen hasn't noticed hitherto, when out and about in the Stanley, a massively increased sex appeal but says he'll be alert to it in Canberra. That's because I've told him about the famous Stanley Steamer song. In it, a damsel gets a flat tyre and is marooned beside the road when along comes a dish, a knight in shining armour and, much more usefully, in a shining Stanley Steamer.
It began to rain, when along the
Came the man in the Stanley
He was a sight to make me
tingle, and a dish to make me
that I was single.
He proposed a ride, so I hopped
And away we started in the
It was not that I was stupid, or
thought the shot I got came
I just lost my heart, from the
To the man in the Stanley
Honk, honk! Honk, honk, honk!
They don't write songs like that any more.
Chris Sorensen's chick magnet will be one of more than 60 dashing vehicles on display and chugging about in Canberra for this Centenary occasion. They're at the National Museum of Australia from 10am to 2pm on the Canberra public holiday, Monday March 11, and at the Australian War Memorial from 12.30pm to 3pm on Thursday March 14.